By Kristen Early
Carson-Newman News Office
JEFFERSON CITY — Taking on a competitive and grueling environment, Carson-Newman University’s fishing team, the Eagle Anglers, secured a 17th-place finish in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship.
Hunter Sales, of Blaine, and Tristan Stalsworth, of Jefferson City, launched onto Lake Tenkiller in Tahlequah, Okla., for a contest against 136 teams.
Only the top 12 teams made the cut to compete in the final weigh-in on the third day of the event.
“Our goal was to win the event, but I’m super proud of our finish,” said Sales, a member of Arrowhead Church, Morristown “Tenkiller was the toughest lake I have ever been on, and we worked extremely hard for every fish.”
The team was within 2 pounds of a top-10 finish, added Stalsworth, a member of Corryton Church, Corryton.
“Hunter and Tristan are great,” said Aaron Porter, club sponsor and assistant vice president for Enrollment Management. “They go about things the right way, and people just can’t help rooting for them. They had a lot of pressure going into this national championship.
“The conditions of this tournament were extremely difficult. Thankfully they are ultra-competitive, stayed composed and managed to grind out a top-20 finish. I’m so glad these two are laying the foundation for a successful program.”
Both Sales and Stalsworth said the national championship was an excellent opportunity to make connections with other anglers.
“The experience was amazing,” Stalsworth said. “It was unlike any other. Getting to meet other anglers from all over the country, getting to talk with them and get their advice and learn about their experiences — it was really fun.”
Stalsworth said the teams’ sights are now set on their next competition, scheduled in October on Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas.
“We plan to hit the tournament trail hard and hope to improve on the solid season, but we wouldn’t have this opportunity without all of our sponsors and supporters,” Sales said.